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Comfort Food on Steroids

The new Two Saints neighborhood eatery is knocking them dead with grilled-cheese sandwiches.

It's interesting that the same sort of pan-seared chicken seems to be showing up everywhere I eat these days. Branch Water Tavern and Two Saints also had two versions of the same dessert — sticky toffee pudding.

Having eaten a lot of big, gooey bowls of sticky toffee pudding in British pubs, I have to say that I am not impressed by the upscale American rendition at either place. The Two Saints version is really little more than bread pudding with some candied crust. Americans seem to like the name of the dessert but fear the sugar content of the real thing. The original tastes like a couple of Heath bars melted in butter and poured over a big hunk of cake.

A brownie with spicy nuts and house-made cinnamon ice cream was a more imaginative dessert.
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Nostalgia-evoking: The grilled cheese with tomato soup.
Troy Fields
Nostalgia-evoking: The grilled cheese with tomato soup.

Location Info

Map

Two Saints

12460 Memorial
Houston, TX 77024

Category: Restaurant > Comfort Foods

Region: Outer Loop - NW

Details

Hours: 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. and 5:30 to10 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays.

Beet salad: $8

Onion rings: $10

Mac 'n' cheese: $13.50

Grilled cheese: $10

Pan-seared chicken: $16

12460 Memorial Dr., 713-465-8967.

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Joe Rippey, Two Saints restaurant's founder, also owns the Vine wine bar. When Azzarelli's closed, leaving the restaurant space vacant, Rippey, who lives three blocks away, decided to get into the food business. Mainly, he was trying to avoid drinking and driving when he went out to dinner, he jokes.

Rippey asked his friend Justin Gasper to be his partner and chef. The two wanted the place to have a neighborhood feel, so they attempted to name it after Benignus Road. But they couldn't figure out exactly who the street was named after, since there are two saints with that name. So they named the place Two Saints. Saint Benignus of Ireland was a friend of Saint Patrick. More propitiously, the French Saint Benignus is the patron saint of Dijon.

Justin Gasper is a veteran of Daily Review Cafe, another destination for lovers of macaroni and cheese and meat loaf in Houston. Gasper describes the food at Two Saints as upscale comfort food with a creative twist. Clearly that was the original intention.

But the food has changed under the influence of Gasper's fellow chefs. I talked to daytime chef Kenya Berding one day while I was waiting for my lunch. Berding worked at Gravitas for three years before coming to Two Saints, and she said she hoped that Two Saints would continue to evolve away from the safety of comfort foods and toward a more ambitious fine-dining menu.

On the current dinner menu, entrées like crispy skin duck breast on saffron risotto with wild greens and parmesan broth, and appetizers like grilled lamb tenderloin with harissa lentils and asparagus, seem to signal such a change. Watch for the foie gras to make an appearance any time now.

Two Saints set out to become a neighborhood comfort food restaurant, and it has already exceeded those modest expectations. The question now is: How high will it fly?

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